Scouting Report: Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin and TE O.J. Howard
The Lions are about to lose their seventh straight game on Sunday when they square off with the 6-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field.
Why, you may ask?
Well, beside for the obvious that they're not very good at 3-9-1 and in dead last in the NFC North, they're going up against a Buccaneers offense that ranks third in points per game at 29.1/game and second in passing yards per game at 298.2/game.
The Lions, meanwhile, in year No. 2 under so-called "defensive genius" Matt Patricia haven't been able to stop anyone.
Patricia & Co. rank 29th in yards per game allowed at 394.7/game and 30th in passing yards allowed per game at 276.5/game.
It spells trouble and probably disaster for Detroit in this Week 15 matchup with the Bruce Arians-led Bucs.
Tampa Bay's air attack is spearheaded by fifth-year passer Jameis Winston -- with his 26 passing touchdowns and career-high 4,115 passing yards.
His two favorite targets in 2019 -- not named Mike Evans -- have been fellow wideout Chris Godwin and to a much lesser extent, tight end O.J. Howard.
Godwin is No. 2 on the Bucs in targets (113), No. 1 in catches (81), No. 1 in reception yards (1,212) and No. 1 in touchdown catches (nine).
Meanwhile, Howard is No. 6 on the Bucs in targets (39), No. 5 in catches (27) and No. 3 in reception yards (367).
The third-year pro is also coming off his best two-week stretch of the season.
He recorded 60-plus receiving yards in back-to-back weeks -- 61 against the Jaguars in Week 13 and 73 against the Colts in Wk. 14 -- for the first time in 2019.
And he put together a nice stat line in his only past appearance against the Lions.
He posted four receptions for 54 yards and a TD on six targets, albeit in 2017 against the then-Jim Caldwell-led Lions.
Although Howard hasn't had the greatest season -- with only one TD to his name through 11 games, Patricia knows that he brings a lot to the table.
“He’s obviously a guy that has played really well in the league and someone that you see producing as of late, and that’s what you expect," Patricia said. "That’s just kind of the player he is. He’s a big guy, he’s strong (and) he’s powerful. He can be in-line at the tight end position, block (and) get the edge. They (the Bucs) do a lot of down blocks with the power-run game, and he’ll be right there at the point of attack. When you have a player that can do all that stuff, you lose sight of how the vertical pass game is now affected because he’s a guy that can get vertical. He can win the one-on-one coverage battle, whether it’s (with) a linebacker or a safety."
As for Godwin, he's been dominant all season long.
In fact, he's produced six games of 90 or more receiving yards, including a career-high 184 yards -- to go along with two scores -- in Week 12 against the Falcons.
The third-year receiver has been a tough cover for seemingly every defense he's faced in 2019, and expect much of the same Sunday against the Lions.
It's why Detroit defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni knows that it will be paramount to identify where Godwin is lined up pre-snap.
"He’s an excellent, excellent receiver, and he lines up in various places," Pasqualoni said. "He’s in the slot, true, but he’s an outside receiver as well. He’s the kind of guy that is a go-to guy. He’s a kind of guy where you have to know where he is. You really do have to know where he’s lined up, and you have to be aware of his location on each snap. He’s a very, very good player.”
And with Evans out for the remainder of the season with a right hamstring injury, expect Godwin to be Winston's clear-cut No. 1 target the rest of the way, including in his Wk. 15 visit to Motown.
Howard, consequently, should see an uptick in targets, too.
My final stat line prediction for both on Sunday:
Godwin - Six catches for 93 yards and a TD
Howard - Four catches for 64 yards and zero TDs